To pay tribute to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on his 121st birthday, we decided to visit his iconic residence at Elgin Road- Netaji Bhawan Kolkata. It is ironical that the house sits right across the Forum Mall and is still often overlooked by many who pass through this area every day.
Netaji Bhavan: A Land Before Time
The building itself is maintained as a memorial and a museum for Subhash Chandra Bose. We were one of those people who would pass by Netaji Bhawan Kolkata every day, never having entered it. With his birthday around the corner, we finally decided to take a tour of his house and see what we were missing out on.
The first thing that catches the eye as you enter the Netaji Bhawan Kolkata is the iconic black German Wanderer, the car that aided his escape to Berlin back in 1941. The ground floor of the building is dedicated to a library and a replica of his memorial monument in Singapore is placed here. One of the greatest reasons this museum was created was due to his curious disappearance which has forever remained a topic of mystery.
On the first floor is Netaji’s bedroom, and his belongings are organised in a beautiful manner, still well-maintained to this date. Painted footprints in red show the route Netaji took to escape from his house. Next door to his room, was his brother, Sarat Chandra Bose’s room, a revolutionary of his own right. It is just an amazing feeling to stand where they stood, it is as if you can for an instant be a part of that time and space. It really does transport you back in time. As you cross the beautiful balcony to the other side, you enter Netaji’s office space, the walls painted with our tri-colour. Immediately, the comforting aura of the other rooms gets replaced by an air of formidable seriousness. This was where some of the most important meetings over our independence went down.
As you go upstairs the Netaji Bhawan Kolkata, the traditional outlook gives way to relatively modern museum housing important artefacts, clothing, photographs, letters and so much more to explore on Netaji and his life. With a voice-over telling you about his past and computers allowing you to access the database of information around this legend, here we can truly delve deeper into the man who came face to face with some of the world’s greats. It tells you of his struggle, his journey and his endeavours, all to gain independence for his motherland.
As appealing as it was to look at his swords and outfits, nothing even came close to the feeling you get from standing in his room or office. It was not only an experience that was long overdue, but an incredible one at that. As you learn more about who he was, you understand more about his passion for independence. As we left his house, it was in an immediate burst that we were brought back to modern India, once again across Forum Mall, as we stood there observing life as it was now only one question came into our mind. As we approach the 121st Netaji Jayanti, we can’t help but wonder – have we forgotten our fallen heroes, those who dedicated their lives to a better India and are we really the better India that legends like Netaji fought for? As I am left to ponder in my thoughts, it goes without saying, visit Netaji Bhawan Kolkata, and experience it for yourself and let us know what you felt as you stepped into the house of the Forgotten Hero.